The country of Rwanda is infamously known for the notorious butchery of over a million lives during the horrific genocide that took place in the 1993. That country, though, now has something to be proud of. In 2012, the Rwandan national cycling team did the impossible and competed in that year’s Summer Olympics. Director T.C. Johnstone tells their inspiring story in “Rising from Ashes."
If the past history of Rwanda, when Hutu murdered Tutsi, had not happened, “Rising from Ashes” would be a good rags to riches story about a team of underdog bicycle racers that make it to the top of their sport. But, that past exists and the riders for Team Rwanda, all of them, lost someone, often entire families, during the genocide. As such, their reasons for racing are deeply rooted with the desire to bring praise, not disdain, to their country. This team, coached by American racer Jonathan Boyer, had something to prove and T.C. Johnstone does a solid job in chronicling their journey from the bottom to the top of their sport.
The filmmakers bring the personal lives of the Rwandan racers to the fore with talking head interview where the cyclists tell of their past, how they got involved in the sport and how they deal with their fame in Rwanda. Many in that country believe that members of Team Rwanda are rolling in the money and should spread the wealth. In fact, they are amateurs and make nothing from their endeavor.
The dedication of the riders, and their trainers Boyer and another American racer, Tom Ritchey, is clear and the Rwandan and Americans bond into a team that stood the world on its ear in 2012. I give it a B-.
Laura gives "Rising from Ashes" a B-.
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